Expatriate Health Insurance in Peru
1) What is Expatriate Health Insurance?
Expatriate health insurance is a type of private international healthcare insurance plan designed for those who are living or working abroad for at least six months of the year. Expatriate health insurance policies typically provide international medical insurance cover, emergency medical evacuation and repatriation services, and most include the costs of land and air private ambulances and a multilingual 24-hour help line.
2) What Types of Expatriate Health Insurance Plans are Available?
A) Essential Expat Insurance Plans – Most international health insurers offer a ‘budget’ or essential version of private expatriate medical insurance that covers emergencies only. In-patient and day-patient treatment, post hospital treatment, emergency dental and complications of pregnancy are usually included. Outpatient and routine maternity and dental costs are generally not covered.
B) Classic Expat Insurance Plans – These health insurance plans are designed to provide specialist medical treatment or diagnosis. You will usually be covered for out-patient consultations, diagnostic tests, a range of preventative healthchecks, normal pregnancy and complementary care, routine dental treatment and any in-patient hospital stays.
C) Premium Expat Insurance Plans - In addition to the benefits of essential and classic health insurance plans, premium expatriate insurance plans also tend to cover family doctor treatment, home nursing and any prescription medications you may need.
Emergency medical evacuation, repatriation services and a 24 hour multilingual help line are included in most private international health insurance plans, but some insurance companies offer the choice of removing some or all of these extras in order to reduce the premium.
Private international health insurance is designed to cover treatment for curable, short-term illnesses or injuries. Some illnesses and treatments, such as cancer and HIV, are seldom included in expat medical insurance plans.
3) Is Expatriate Health Insurance Necessary?
A) Obligatory vs. Optional Expat Health Insurance
Different countries have different rules and regulations about healthcare and medical insurance:
I) Obligatory Health Insurance - some countries have now made having a private medical insurance plan compulsory for all expats.
II) Optional Health Insurance – other countries, such as the UK, have a national health service that treats UK residents free of charge for most conditions. In such a case, you may decide that private expatriate medical insurance is not necessary. Having expatriate health insurance is not obligatory in Peru. However, if you are planning on living and working in Peru, it is certainly advisable to take out a health insurance policy (see below for more details).
B) When is Optional Expat Health Insurance Still Advisable?
In the case of expatriate health insurance being optional you must think carefully about whether it is still advisable:
I) Expensive National Medical Care – in some countries, such as America or Germany, the cost of medical care is particularly high, so in such cases it may be wise to take out a private international health insurance policy.
II) Poor National Medical Care – in other countries, for example in the third-world, there are few facilities available for the provision of health care. In addition, some hospitals simply will not admit patients who cannot commit to paying all the bills. In such cases it is advisable to purchase private international medical insurance. Peru’s state hospitals lack resources, have poor levels of hygiene and long waiting lists. Unless you are willing to wait months for treatment (which you will have to pay for) or to foot an extensive private clinic bill it is best to take out a private health insurance policy when planning on living and working in Peru.
C) Do I Need Expat Health Insurance if I Already Have Travel Insurance?
People often assume that they do not need to take out an expatriate health insurance plan if they already have travel insurance that includes a medical insurance section. However, most travel insurance policies only provide emergency medical treatment for accidents and short term illnesses, and do not cover routine medical problems and needs. Travel insurance should not be a replacement for international medical insurance, but merely a supplement.
4) Should I Purchase Expat Health Insurance Abroad or From my Country of Origin?
It is becoming increasingly common to purchase private health insurance overseas (i.e. insurance offered by companies in the country in which you live, or in which you are planning to live). However, always choose carefully and read the small print because some foreign insurance policies are very limited. For example, some do not include repatriation or medical evacuation services.
One of the best Peruvian health insurance companies is ‘Pacífico’ (www.pacificoseguros.com).Another is ‘La Positiva’ (http://www.lapositiva.com.pe/modulos/main.aspx). See http://www.ohperu.com/empresas/seguros.htm for more health insurance companies in Peru.